Behind every scar there is a story.
Maybe you’re reading this because you’re thinking about rewriting that story. Tattooing can be an amazing way to conceal scar tissue and empower their wearer. If you view your scars as a blemish or the scars remind you of something you’d rather forget, a well done tattoo can be a more cost effective solution than plastic surgery. However, the results you can expect vary in the type of scar tissue, the tattoo chosen and the expertise of the artist.
So, should you choose to cover a scar with a tattoo, here’s what you need to know to get the best possible results.
Is it possible to get tattooed over a scar?
Well, it depends on the type of scar tissue. The most common scars that can be tattooed over include scars from surgical procedures, burns, accidents, acne, birthmarks, stretch marks, freckles and spider veins.
There are a few factors that need to be considered though.
Is the tattoo fully healed?
Fresh scars will be more difficult to work with and a lot more painful for you. Your body will still be trying to heal the damaged area, and the skin will still be inflamed, irritated and sensitive for a long while. It can take anything from several weeks to several months or even years if it’s a particularly bad injury so take this in to account when planning your tattoo.
If you’re not sure, a scar that is still healing will often be red and angry looking. A healed scar will be paler and more faded; this can take 1-2 years. You could always check with your doctor or a dermatologist if you are still unsure, they can give medical advice that can help you make a safe decision on covering your scar with a tattoo.
How deep is the scar?
Light scars in the first few layers of skin shouldn’t be a problem to cover but deep scars could cause an issue. The tougher skin may prevent the ink from being placed exactly where it needs to go, which could lead to blurring and distortion within parts of the tattoo.
Scar tissue has a denser texture compared to normal skin which makes the tattoo ink to hold. Some colours will look better on your scar than others while the tattoo lines and shading can be lighter and with time can look blurry. You should expect to need touch ups in the future to keep it looking fresh.
While covering scars can be relatively easy certain types can be more difficult to tattoo over.
Raised and keloid scars can be a nightmare. In most cases a scar that is raised is still healing so over time it may settle down. If its an old scar you will have to bear in mind it will take pigment differently but an experienced artist will be able to advise on a solution to this.
Keloid scars are more difficult and I would probably avoid tattooing over them as they do not take ink well and they grow over time; this would distort your tattoo.
Saying that, depending on the size and gravity most scars can be hidden effectively with a design rich in colour and texture to help it blend in and take away attention from the scar to the artwork itself.
This is where it is important to choose an experienced artist.
A tattoo artist with experience in covering scars will be able to design something to work with the scar and manage your expectations on how the tattoo will come out. They can help you choose a design that is both meaningful and can camouflage the scar turning it into an image you are proud to show off.
Make sure you look at their portfolio and see before and after pictures of scars they have covered. If possible ask to see healed pictures too to get the best view on how your tattoo might look.
The last thing you want is to end up with a tattoo that doesn’t look good so be really thorough when looking for an artist until you find the best talent you can afford; even if it means saving up for it. It will be worth it I promise!
Is tattooing over a scar painful?
Again, that depends on your pain tolerance. The skin will be more sensitive so the possibility of it being more painful is something to consider. The artist may need to go over the areas around the scar multiple times to get the ink to hold which can be painful and sore after a while.
Some scars also come with nerve damage; this can make tattooing incredibly painful, so that is something to think about before deciding to cover a scar with a tattoo.
If you are worried about the pain you might want to look into a tattoo numbing cream to help it be a bit more bearable.
In the end, once the tattoo is finished you’ll have forgotten about the pain and you’ll have an awesome new piece to show off.
What are the risks of tattooing over a scar?
As with most forms of body art tattooing, and tattooing over a scar comes with some risks. The main risks come with the healing of the tattoo and how it looks once its healed. Be sure to keep the tattoo clean and moisturised to prevent infection.
Since the texture of scar tissue is different it will hold the ink differently to how healthy layers of skin would. So your design might look blurrier than it normally would do.
In some cases it may not take the ink at all leaving your tattoo patchy. If this happens you might need your artist to do a few touch ups and build the colour up over time and improve the patchiness.
There is a very small chance that the scar could rupture while you are being tattooed, if this happens you need to stop the tattoo immediately and seek urgent medical attention.
Hopefully this has cleared up a few questions you have had about covering your scar.
The best advice I can give is to find a reputable experienced artist and they will be able to give you tailored advice based on your scar.
Good luck and I hope you can fall in love with your body all over again; tattoo or not. No body is flawless and after all scars are tattoos with better stories, in most cases anyway.
If you want to cover your scars with clothing instead we have some bad ass tattoo merch in our webstore here.
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